Wargoon Flishe Watch

including the Pome of the Day Project

Sunday, December 17, 2006

animation origins

a few days ago i wrote about the origins of Wargoon Flishe. I was reading Joseph Campbell and I was reading James George Frazer's The Golden Bough, and somehow a hero's story, ancient and yet contemporary, began to unwind in my brain.
but how did the animation biz start. It started early with me, with a brown paper grocery bag that i got from a neighbor when i was nine or when i was ten. inside that brown bag was a Brownie movie camera, something already old, from the 1950's, and it was something sitting in an attic gathering dust, and i might do something with it, which is why i got it.
i got some film for it from the drugstore and following the directions and the first thing I did was set it up on a tripod in the basement with an easel and tried to make an animation. i didn't know at that time about the importance of light, but i learned my lesson, for the film came back black, and i don't even remember what that animated film was even going to be about, but i couldn't see it because i shot it too dark.
but soon i got back on my Brownie bicycle, and used a desklamp for light, and cut out paper shapes and moved them bit by bit and pressed down fast on the camera's shutter release, for it had no single frame abilities.
from ten to eighteen i experimented in all kinds of animation, cut paper, drawings, clay, styrofoam, time lapse, pixilation. but when i was eighteen and an adult, i stopped it all.
just a couple years ago i started thinking about how much i missed doing animation. i started playing around with photoshop, and saw a few animators in person talking about their work, at the Walker Art Center, and then on a trip to Los Angeles seeing both Gene Deitch, a hero from my youth, the creator of the Tom Terrific cartoons that were on Captain Kangaroo, and Michelle Connoyer, a Canadian animator with beautiful hand drawn lines.
upon return of that trip i bought a light box, and slowly started drawing on notecards and then post-it notes.
when i took a month off of work in 2005 and travelled by rail across the country, i had lots of train time to draw animated frame by frame and to animate with my video camera and with the post it notes stuck on the train window. In Montreal, i visited the Cinemateque Quebecois, where i saw a program of eastern european animation and walked thru their gallery of the history of animation. i saw the tools of malcolm mclaren, and as i travelled west on the train the idea hatched that i should attempt the grand canyon, the mount everest of animation and to make, on my own, an animated feature film. i told about my idea to an old friend in san francisco, and because i had let the cat out of the bag, i knew i had to do it now. on one more train stretch, or maybe it was while walking down a san fran street, i thought about my wargoon flishe story, with such a flexible line between life and death like so many cartoons, and knew that had to be the basis.


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